Friday, 31 May 2013

The Write Mood

I've enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. I don't remember what the very first story was that I wrote, but I do remember creating a little book when I was about seven about 'William Rabbit' who was a rabbit who needed to get glasses. I can vividly recall stapling it together with a green paper cover and white sheets as the pages. I even did the illustrations (it took me quite a while to figure out how you would get glasses to stay on a rabbit's head).

Each year I take part in NaNoWriMo and I've produced some interesting and varied results over the year. I don't kid myself that I'm good enough to actually do anything with them, but I enjoy the actual process of pouring part of myself out onto paper or a computer screen.

There are some stories that I feel closer to than others. One in particular is called Behind The Scenes and I've been writing it for the last ten years. It started when I was seventeen and my friend was visiting, who also liked to write, and she decided to write a story set in Scotland. Not wishing to be outdone I decided to write a short piece which described a car crash without actually saying what was happening.

From that things snowballed. My story also ended up taking place in Scotland so we realised that our characters might meet and whenever our stories got a little bit slow, they would visit each other for a while. My own life, dreams and the Lord of the Rings DVD special features inspired my story and after almost a year of writing it (by hand, in a tatty A4 notepad) I finally reached page 75 and wrote the final words.

And then I didn't really know what to do with it. Until I typed it up and made some changes and printed it all out. And then it sat around not doing very much for another couple of years. Until a little while later when I decided to rewrite it.

Using my original print out (which is basically the second draft) I started writing it out by hand, just like when I first wrote it. This time it has chapters and has been fleshed out. It's quite funny really because it has a main female and male character, both of whom end up involved romantically with two other characters. Upon careful reading of the story I found that one of these couples got together a lot quicker than I realised so it's been fun on this rewrite finding out exactly when that happened.

Above is a word cloud of what I have typed up so far of the prologue-y bit at the beginning which introduces the four main characters. I actually need to rearrange that bit because the events as they stand at the moment are out of order and it's bugging me so I need to put them into the right order.

Will this story ever see the light of day? Unlikely, it's been in the works for so long that first I found myself trying to explain why no one had mobile phones and now I've been rewriting it so that they are slightly more up to date with technology. By the time I finish it I'll have to rewrite it again to include references to holo-phones and flying cars!

I like having something on the back-burner that I can pick up and work on when I'm feeling in a writing sort of mood. At the moment Behind the Scenes, in its tatty polypocket and notebook, resides beside my bed ready to be picked up and worked on whenever I should be studying or revising or doing something else more important.

Recently I've had a burst of inspiration for another story, potentially one for my next NaNo project. It's children's story as opposed to a book for older readers, not something I've written before. I always find it a little bit weird writing a new story with new characters. Abby, Alex, Jack and Anna have been in my head for so long that I feel like I know almost everything about them. These new characters who have popped into my brain are all shiny and new and I know very little about them. It's a little bit scary figuring out where to begin.

Do you write? Have you got a project that you've been working on for a really long time?

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Day Zero Project: Buy a 50mm Lens

I quite enjoy taking photos and a couple of years ago I saved up and treated myself to a DSLR when I found that my little Canon compact wasn't letting me do all the things I wanted to do with it. I'm still learning how everything works on this super-duper fancy camera and there are lots of things that I still don't know how to do.

But that's one of the fun things about photography, you can look up a photo that you admire, investigate the settings used to achieve that effect and then imitate it yourself. That's how I ended up with this:

I'd seen a couple of other sparkle type photos and I figured out how to do it myself, which I was dead pleased about. When I got my tripod I used the same method of trial and error to figure out how to do the light writing and long exposure photos as well as to make my little stop-motion animation.

My Canon camera came with two lens, which I happily refer to as my standard lens and my long lens. They're both kit lenses and they do exactly what I need them to do at the moment, but I'd really like to get a 50mm lens because I love seeing what you can do with them, particularly portrait photography which is something I haven't done a great deal of so far.

I have kind of promised myself that I'll get one ready for when we actually have a baby so I can learn to use it when I have a little person that I can take lots of photos of. In the meantime it's not really an essential, but I've kind of already chosen which one I want and as soon as I win the lottery I'll order it for myself. ;-)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

There's An App For That: Brainscape

I have an iPhone and about once a week I spend a bit of time going through the App Store looking out for interesting or useful apps.

A couple of years ago, on my old iPhone, I had a nifty flash card app which I used for learning lines for the plays I was in as well as to help me revise for my OU exam. Naturally I tried to find it again to help me with my revision for my latest exam.

Unfortunately I couldn't remember what it was called, but I was able to find something better. Brainscape.

It's basically a flash card app, but it's got a little bit extra which means that it's a little bit more interactive which I think helps me learn.

It came pre-loaded with several sets of flash cards and I tested it out before I started filling in my own cards. The one I tested myself on was twenty Latin words and quickly realised that it was going to work for me.

So I've been making a set of cards for some of the topics I might write about in the exam. It's got a great system for checking how you are getting on.

Each flash card shows you the question that you've set, you then answer it and then reveal the answer. You then rate your answer on a scale of one to five. Each number has a colour so you can see your progress through the topic.

The aim is for the bar or pie chart to go completely blue, which indicates 'mastery'. It repeats any you're less confident of more frequently to help reinforce them.

Obviously it's not the only method I'm using for revision, but it's certainly helping me to remember the names for particular terms as well as to remember key points about characters and events in the texts I've been studying.

It also means that Mr Click can help me revise by asking me questions from the cards. In some ways I prefer it when he joins in because then he rates my answers for me, it seems a little more objective some how.

I'm still going to be using my old fall back revision strategy of mind maps and lists of key points but the flash card method works for me too, and Brainscape means that it's easily portable.

Do you have any revision strategies that you rely on? Has technology changed the way you revise?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Book 19 of 2013: Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Do you ever find books that you think you've already read, only to start reading and think 'hang on, this is all new'?

That was how I felt with Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. What I read, as a child, was a heavily abridged version which was full of illustrations and designed for children. So while I was aware of the story of Gulliver with the Lilliputians the rest of the story was completely new to me.

Richard Redgrave painting of Gulliver from Wikipedia
Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the story of Lemuel Gulliver, a sailor who is shipwrecked and finds himself washed ashore where all the people are tiny. Gulliver's Travels follows his journeys first to Lilliput, the land of the little people; then to Brobdignag where Gulliver himself is the little person and all the people are giants (pictured above); from there his travels take him to the flying island of Laputa, then Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdrubdib and Japan; and finally to the Land of the Houyhnhnms. At each of these places Gulliver meets stranger and stranger races who have totally different lifestyles and beliefs to himself.

As I said above, I thought that I'd already read this before, but I quickly became aware that what I had read was obviously a children's edition which only dealt with Gulliver's trip to Lilliput. Everything that came after that was brand new to me. It wasn't exactly a long read, I was done with it within a week. I'd picked this to read purely because, just like The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde it ticked two boxes for my reading challenges this year; Gulliver's Travels gave me the letter G for the Spring Challenge, but it was also one of the books from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

I much preferred the first half of the book to the second. I could have been quite happy just reading about Gulliver's experiences with the Lilliputians and the Brobdignagians. They formed a nice contrast to one another. It sounds silly but those places felt somewhat more believable than the places visited in parts three and four. I just couldn't understand why his wife would keep on letting him go to sea when every time he left he ended up visiting someplace even more bizarre than the last one!

It was actually quite a funny read; the humour has aged well considering that it was originally published back in 1726! About a year ago we watched the modern film version of Gulliver's Travels, with Jack Black, and there were bits that I assumed had been put in to appeal to modern audiences, such as Gulliver urinating on the palace to put out a fire, but nope! That was in the original!

There are places where the book is presenting a satire on various political groups of the day, which were a little bit over my head. That obviously dates the book a bit, but on the whole it's quite funny and I really enjoyed the style of it. It was written in the same sort of vein as a travel book which kind of made it all feel real. I loved that I was able to get totally sucked into the book, even if the last two sections did drag on a bit too much for me.

Definitely one that I'd recommend and will probably reread in the future.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Pretty Puppy

When we got Tara she had a pretty red collar, which I think really suited her. It was nice and bright and stood out well against her black fur.

But it started getting a bit worn out so we replaced it, this time with a black one from our local pet shop. It wasn't anything fancy but it did the trick.

We've been to Pets at Home a couple of times recently and I liked looking at the different collars. The problem was, before our shopping trip we forgot to measure her neck so couldn't be certain that we would get the right size for her.

I'd been leaning towards a green coloured collar with a sort of snake-skin effect on it. It had little silver bones on, like her old red one. As much as I wanted to get her a sparkly pink one, Mr Click was very strict about 'no bling'.

In the end we got one from eBay, something a little bit designer because we're crazy people who spoil our pets.

The problem we had with her last one was that you'd end up with a big flappy bit of collar once it was fastened. Tara could grab it and it didn't look so smart.

This one is from a brand called Quido Petz and fastens with a buckle. It's a lot more adjustable than the last collar and the woman on the eBay shop was really helpful to make sure Mr Click got the right size.

We were going to get one which was decorated with little black Labradors but that was out of stock in Tara's size. Personally I prefer the blue paisley sort of pattern, the silver makes it look a little bit fancy and somehow it makes our Tup-Tup-pup look a little more grown up.

Sort of.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Project 52: Week 21 - Walls

I have to admit that I didn't try very hard with this week's photo. I considered taking my camera with me when we went for our appointment at the Nuffield in Glasgow, because with a theme like walls I was sure that something would come up there, but in the end I decided against it.

I'd liked the idea of taking a photo of a broken down old wall or maybe one covered in graffiti, something interesting. Graffiti is somewhat limited on our island, which is probably a good thing because most of the time I'm not a fan. Had I had the energy or the inclination then I would've taken my camera for a walk around the estate because there's a couple of places, like a run down old boathouse which I think could've made an interesting picture.

Alas, most of my time after work at the moment has been spent looking over OU course books for revision purposes and the weather's not been the best at times so photography has gone out of the window somewhat.

My photo this week was really just a spur of a moment thing. It was born of laziness because I'd switched to the long lens on my camera the other day when a pheasant was in the garden of the eco-house next door. I'd dashed in from work, changed my clothes, changed my lens and hurried outside only to find the bird had disappeared. When I pulled my camera out yesterday I still had the long lens on and realised that this meant I could just take a photo while I stood in our front doorway. I didn't even have to put any shoes on!

Week 21: Walls
I realise that it's a picture of a singular wall, rather than a plural one, but it was the best I could come up with at the time. I've taken a few photos in the past of this little patch of wall directly outside our front door. It's got all sorts of moss and lichen growing on it so it's an interesting patchwork of colours.

They're not so clear but there are bluebells flowering right in front of it also. To the right are some bushy plants but they were all clipped back fairly recently so you can actually see more of the wall now. It'd be a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by, that is if you were tall enough to actually hop up onto it.

I didn't do a huge amount of editing to this picture, just upped the contrast slightly along with the saturation. It's not really the most interesting of photos and if I'd had more time this morning, and it hadn't been spotting with rain, I would've gone along the road to where there is a walled garden with a dry-stone wall. When we had the big storm last year a tree brought down part of the wall and it's been repaired since then. Thinking about it now I wish I'd gone along there to take a photo of that, where the new stones contrast with the old ones.

I guess I'm still a little bit self-conscious of taking photos in public. Chasing bumblebees around my in-laws' garden to get a pretty picture of them sitting on a flower is one thing, but out and about in public where people may see me taking a photo of a random wall feels a little bit different. I guess I just have to be a little bit braver and not worry so much about what other people think when they see me with my camera.

Next week the theme is hands and I'm trying to think of what I might take a photo of for that. I think a pair of old and a pair of young hands would look striking in black and white, but I'm not sure I know of any young people who could lend me a hand so to speak, so I'll have to see what I can come up with instead.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Liebster Award - Third Time Lucky

I've been nominated for the Liebster Award again, this time by Sidonie Helena at Sidonie Helena Reads (Thank you). Until I was nominated I hadn't actually checked out her blog, but as she spends a lot of time reviewing books I have a funny feeling that I'll be reading it regularly now. As if I needed any more excuse to add to my ever-growing to-read pile! Be sure to go visit her blog and say hi.

I'm getting to be a bit of a dab hand at these now, but I still enjoy doing them. I just had the Sunshine Award recently and I've done the Liebster a little while back as well, so I'll hold off nominating anyone else for them at the moment. If you're wanting to take part though, comment on this post and I'll edit this post with a link to your blog. ;-)

Just a recap in case you're not clear about what the Liebster Award is, it's for blogs with 200 followers or less and it comes with a few rules:

State 11 facts about yourself.Answer 11 questions posed by the blogger who nominated you.
Nominate up to 11 new bloggers for the Liebster Award. Go to their blogs and let them know.
Ask them 11 new questions.
Be sure to thank the blogger who nominates you with a link back to his or her blog.

It's getting trickier to come up with eleven new facts about myself, so I apologise if any of these are repeated from previous posts. What I decided to do for my facts this time around was to take my questions that I asked on my previous Award, so here goes:

1. Probably my best Halloween costume was when I was about eleven and I dressed up as a cat for a Halloween party at my St. John's Cadets. I wore black leggings and a black polo shirt with a tail made from a pair of tights. I think I might have worn black gloves as well. My Nanny put my hair in two plaits and then coiled them up on top of my head to make ears and then painted on a cat face for me as well. I looked awesome.

2. I love doing laundry. There's something immensely satisfying about watching a big bag full of dirty clothes turn into a neat pile of clean folded clothes. I'm less keen on the putting away portion of the laundry, but I do enjoy standing in the sun hanging washing out. It's one of the best things to do in summer.

3. I'm a reluctant iPhone user. I love what the iPhone allows me to do (we don't have internet in the house so it gives me a form of internet use so I can blog and keep up to date with my friends without the expense of getting a phone line put in and having a monthly fee for broadband on top of our mobile phones). I'm not a huge fan of the software though. iTunes seems sent to annoy me. This is probably due to my infrequent use of it so whenever I want to put music on the phone I have to spend half an hour trying to find out how to do it. I hate to admit, I'm never that far away from my phone.

4. The best thing I've ever knitted is this lady:
I love that she looks almost exactly the way that the picture with the pattern showed her looking. It was so fun to make all the little bits and then carefully follow the instructions to see them turn into something as if by magic. Of course I've now started knitting a Postman Hedgehog and so he might turn into my new 'best thing'.

5. I can't come up with a nickname for Mr Click, except for Mr Click and that's just a blog thing. Sometimes I call him Mr [actual surname] but he calls me 'Darling' but I can't seem to call him a pet name. I give my pets nicknames, hell, I even give my gadgets nicknames, but I can't seem to come up with one for my husband.

6. I could probably listen to nothing but Taylor Swift for the rest of my life. Recently I've taken to playing the Speak Now album on my phone while I take a shower (because her albums are louder than the other music on my phone so I can hear it while I'm in the bath). There is one song in particular, Mean, which is great fun to sing at the top of your voice.

7. The thing I'm most proud of at the moment is the fact that I seem to have overcome my phobia of the telephone. I used to be really nervous about making a phone call and would have to write out everything that I needed to say before I actually made the call. Now I'm not too bothered any more. I had to phone the tax people the other week (because of a major tax cock-up) and I wasn't phased at all. I just hope I don't relapse now.

8. I don't embarrass that easily. I tend to come out with stupid things and that can be a bit embarrassing, but I guess I'm so used to doing it now that it doesn't worry me too much anymore. I'm perfectly able to laugh at myself.

9. I would love to have a pet sheep. I've been lambing a couple of times and loved it. I wasn't squeamish in the slightest. I'd love to have a little patch of land with three or four sheep. That would be cool.

10. I quite enjoy taking part in blogging challenges. My first was the A to Z Challenge which ran throughout April. I've since discovered another one called Everyday in May which aims to post every day throughout May. I've not joined in on that one this time around but if it runs next year I might join in then. I've just joined the A to Z Roadtrip, which is more about visiting and commenting on other blogs, but I'm on my eye out for other challenges.

11. I've got really good at scheduling my blog posts. I like that it takes the pressure off me. I spend about an afternoon writing them and scheduling them, as well as a few minutes here and there every so often to add to posts and things. I'm amazed that I've got to the stage where I'm able to blog every day, I never imagined I could be that organised!

And now for my eleven questions from Sidonie Helena:
1. What is one thing that you can not live without?
Aside from my phone, my husband. Mr Click has been here for my through thick and thin and I know that he really loves me. I can tell him my secrets, even the really dorky ones, and he makes me happy in so many ways. I'm glad he's mine.

2. What was your least favourite subject in school?
Maths. It was never my strongest subject, even at primary school it was the one I had to work hardest at (which was hard for me because with lots of things I could just get them and Maths wasn't like that at all). I also had my confidence knocked by a very bad teacher; I injured my ankle and was on crutches for several months so the school wouldn't allow me to go upstairs due to health and safety issues so the teachers for classes upstairs were supposed to send work down to me, but my Maths teacher wouldn't, or would send things down without instructions. I ended up getting 26% on my end of year test and they weren't even going to enter me for my GCSEs.

It all worked out okay in the end though, we moved to Scotland, I had a great teacher who even ran afterschool study sessions for us and I got a 1 at Standard Grade. But I was very aware of my limits and didn't take it any further for a Higher. I'm a firm believer that it depends how things are taught that influence how much you enjoy them; when I was at University Maths became one of my favourite subjects!

3. Do you prefer talking on the phone or face to face?
As much as I'm enjoying getting over the phone phobia thing, I much prefer talking face to face. You get so many clues from people's body language that you just can't read when you're talking on the phone. Plus my job involves talking on the phone for pretty much most of the day, so it's nice to have conversations with people in the same room as you when you're not at work.

4. What is the last dream that you remember?
I had a dream about our trip to the Nuffield but that wasn't very clear. I vaguely remember seeing a nurse who looked like Carol from ER who was called Carol and Mr Click kept on saying that it was her, and I kept telling her off. They also wanted to ask us loads of questions that seemed to have no relevance to our IVF, like 'what was the ten digit code to get into this room?' Oh, and it seemed to be set in one of my old schools. The mind boggles!

5. Who is the most famous person you have met?
Probably Prince Charles. Everyone knows who that is. He was at the Tetbury Sack Races and me and my friend were able to get right to the front of the crowd and he shook our hands. Truth be told, being young teenagers, we were rather disappointed that William and Harry weren't there, hehe.

After that probably a toss up between Terry Pratchett and Status Quo, though how famous you'd say they were probably depends on your choice of reading material and music.

6. Where did you grow up?
For the first fourteen years of my life I lived in Yate, a little town on the outskirts of Bristol, whose main claim to fame was that the car crashes for Casualty were filmed on the 'Road to Nowhere' there. That's where I learnt to ride my bike.

Although you could probably class those as my formative years, I don't really think that I really grew up until I moved to Scotland when I was fourteen. I've been here for thirteen years now and I really feel more at home here than I did in England. I suppose it's just that I've learnt to be me rather than trying to fit in as a teenager. I still have a terrible West Country accent though (you just can't get rid of those things).

7. If you could live anywhere on earth, where would you live?
Here. I love living in Scotland. I love my little island. If I had to move I'd happily go North, or maybe to one of the smaller islands. Otherwise it would have to be North Yorkshire. Mr Click took me there on holiday the year we got married and I fell in love with the place. I could see myself retiring there.

8. What was the last thing you bought?
Technically this won't be the case because I'm writing this on Sunday to schedule to post on Saturday and I'm going shopping tomorrow so I'll have bought boring things like food then. Today (Sunday) I have ordered a couple of new bras because my favourite one has gone south (probably the wrong choice of words there considering the subject).

9. Your favourite film is...
Jack and Sarah. It's a rather old film now about a man whose wife dies in labour leaving him to raise their daughter alone. And then along comes an American nanny. It's cheesy as hell but it's got Richard E. Grant, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins in it and you have to love a film with a cast like that.

10. Apple or PC?
Definitely PC. It's what I've grown up with and I just find things easier with it. I used to hate it when I ended up in the Apple lab at Uni because it took me twice as long to do anything. That said, Macs do have some cool software and I did used to play on a really old one (when I was much younger) at my Grampy's house. If someone gave me a Mac completely free I'd not turn it down, but I can't see myself buying one in the future any time soon.

11. Do you even like questionnaires?
I love questionnaires. I can quite happily waste hours answering questions like these. Plus sometimes you find that your answers aren't quite what you were expecting them to be.

And now for my questions, free to anyone who wants to take them ;-)
1. What is your favourite body part?
2. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
3. What time did you wake up this morning?
4. If you could have been born in any year, what year would you choose to be born in?
5. Is there a story behind your name, why are you called what you are?
6. Did you ever had a den as a child? Describe it.
7. If you were only remembered for one thing, what would you like it to be?
8. Describe your most memorable date.
9. What would your perfect Saturday involve?
10. What is your favourite way to procrastinate?
11. I hand you a blank sheet of paper, what will you do with it?

If you feel like answering any of these questions, post a comment here and I'll link back to your blog in this post.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Special Purchase

Do you have one particular product that you buy from one brand, forsaking all others?

I'm generally a budget shopper. When it comes to food we get Lidl or Aldi lemonade (at a whopping 18p per bottle) over Barrs, own brand cornflakes over Kellogg's, and loo roll is loo roll. My clothes come from Matalan or Tesco or charity shops.

But I do have to make an exception for one particular article of clothing.

Underwear. Especially bras! It's something you're going to be wearing all day everyday and you want something comfortable. Plus, once I have a favourite item of clothing I'll wear it until it falls apart.

Which is why this week we had a little shopping spree on the M&S online store. And now I'm enjoying my purchases (I was very restrained but I'm already planning my next buy).

Though is it just me or have things got a bit more complicated in the bra department than they used to be. There's so much choice, not only colours and styles but they have all sorts of special features too. I'm not just talking padding or underwire here, I mean side slings and cool comfort technology.

Whatever they are, they've confirmed why I pick M&S over everyone else. They're comfy, good value for money and if they're anything like my last ones, they'll probably last a good long time. And they don't leave big red marks on me when I take them off (I'm allergic to something in the New Look bras I bought last year).

So is there anything that you only ever get from one place? What's the reason why?

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Day Zero Project: Buy A New Bookcase

When we moved into our house all of my books lived in boxes upstairs in the spare bedroom. Pretty much top of my list of new furniture was a bookcase for them to live in (even before we got a washing machine, which tells you something about my priorities regarding these matters). We had one narrow bookcase which Mr Click suggested we use for our DVDs, so we were lucky to pick up a second hand one which matched the narrow one quite well (which has proved useful considering they now stand side by side in our front lobby).

It was perfect and held roughly half of my books. But the problem was I had to regularly rearrange the shelves so that what I wanted to read was on the shelf and what I wasn't planning on reading for a while was back upstairs in the boxes.

We kept on looking back at the Pass It On place where we got that bookcase but we weren't having much luck so it just went on the list as something to get in the future. And then we found it!

When I first saw it, I wasn't entirely sure that it was what we needed. I didn't have any worry about it not matching the other bookcase because none of our stuff matches, but I was worried it wouldn't hold as many books. The original plan had been to get a bookcase to go alongside the original, but as it became apparent that we weren't going to get something in a similar style we kind of changed our minds.

I blogged about the musical rooms approach we took to rearranging the furniture in my Changing Rooms post so I won't repeat myself here. What we did do was take the DVD cupboard from the front lobby (seen to the left of the photo above) and turned it into a book cupboard which gave us a little bit more storage space for books. I still have several boxes of books upstairs in the spare bedroom but that's mostly because I keep on buying more!

The bookcase wasn't quite what we were thought we wanted, but it's exactly right for us. It holds two rows of books, plus one of the drawers holds cookery books and the other one holds my OU stuff (which means it's not just dumped on the floor beside the bookcase any more). It was clearly designed for us because there's even space for the Wii Fit board underneath.

I'd quite like to get another bookcase at some point in the future, but it's not really top of my priority list now. At least it's another thing I can tick off my Day Zero Project list!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Consultation at the Nuffield

I'll apologise in advance here because I suspect that in the next couple of months a lot of my posts are going to be about IVF stuff and I realise that might not interest everyone. I'm wanting to share my experience here though in the hopes that it'll be of some use to others going through the same thing.

On Monday I got up insanely early. Correction, I went to sleep insanely late and then woke up just a few hours later feeling really excited for the day ahead. After walking the dog and dropping her at my in-laws' we boarded the ferry and drove into Glasgow to the Nuffield hospital.

I mentioned the Nuffield during my A to Z Challenge after we went there for their Hope Fertility Clinic Open Day. It's a private hospital in the centre of Glasgow that deals with a number of procedures, one of which is IVF.

The place feels a little bit like a hotel when you go in. There's comfy seats in the waiting area, toilet doors that actually lock (hugely important to me after our experience at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary) and lots of friendly and helpful staff.

We arrived at about 9:40 for a 10am appointment which gave me plenty of time to have a little freak out in the toilet. I have myself a pep talk about how it was okay to be here, no one was judging me, that this would all be fine and then we headed to the waiting room.

Mr Click took advantage of the free drinks machine while I sat there feeling wibbly for fifteen minutes. Then the consultant came through. Funnily enough she's one of the doctors who our notes were forwarded to at the GRI.

I don't know why but I was expecting the consultant to be someone who was a bit aloof and stern but she wasn't at all! She came to the waiting area, introduced herself and we shook hands then we went through to her room.

And what a difference to our first appointment at the GRI! Whereas there I got the impression that we were just another file to have boxes ticked off on, at the Nuffield I felt like we were treated like real people. Before she asked us any questions she introduced herself and then asked us things like how we met and how we came to be in Scotland. It was lovely to feel like more than just a patient.

She asked us a few questions about the treatment we were seeking and was really impressed by how thorough our notes from our GP were (I love our GP!) I'd been worried about sending those along before our appointment but when I sent an email in the staff were really reassuring about just bringing them along and it was good to see how much attention the consultant paid to them. They're in our file now and we can check off several tests we otherwise would've needed.

She asked a few questions about ourselves and made some notes of her own. When they did this at the GRI it basically consisted of reading our notes to us like this 'you're 25?', 'you're taking Folic Acid?', 'you don't smoke?' This just felt more conversational and surprisingly relaxed.

Virtually one of the first things she said when we entered the room was that we'd come a long way, which was reassuring that she'd taken note of that before we'd arrived. It made it a lot easier to broad the subject of appointment times and difficulties we might have with early appointments due to ferry times. In fact I think it was the consultant herself who suggested we make our next appointments for Mr Click's test and my nurse appointment on the same day.

I feel like the Nuffield 'gets' the fact that we live on an island which removes a massive source of stress for us. This is a good thing because infertility is stressful enough without having to phone places and ask them to play musical appointments because you can't get there on time.

The consultant explained I would need to have an AMH test which is a blood test to determine my reserve of eggs. Basically, unlike men who keep on producing sperm, women have a finite number of eggs and so the quantity will determine which drug protocol I'll be put on. She arranged for that to be done right after our appointment with her.

She also gave us a brief overview of what the IVF would involve. Thanks to Dr. Google and various friends on fertility forums I had a pretty good idea of what this would involve but I was glad to hear how it works at the Nuffield. Obviously a lot will depend on the results of the blood test.

We also brought up the egg donation and she spoke to us about that too; like the treatment itself that'll depend on our test results but she was very reassuring. I was worried about being told it wouldn't be possible straight off so her response made me feel positive there too.

And then the consultation was over. We headed back to the waiting room and she headed off up the corridor to organise my blood test.

We only had to wait a few minutes before the nurse came to get me. And she was lovely too. She joked about feeling like a vampire because she's always taking blood but she was honestly one of the best people I've ever had take my blood. I barely felt a thing and there's only a tiny hint of a bruise at the puncture site (normally I bruise like a peach)!

We chatted about having awkward surnames and living in Scotland and giving blood; it was all so relaxed. And now we just have to wait for the results. The consultant will call in a week and from there we can arrange our nurse appointment and Mr Click's test.

I'm so glad that we've got the ball rolling with this. It was the nicest feeling in the world coming out of the hospital practically bouncing as opposed to our appointment at the GRI where I came out just wanting to cry. I really feel like this might be the start of good things to come!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Book 18 of 2013: Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops by Jen Campbell

I posted a little announcement when this book came out and I was torn between posting a review for it at the time and waiting and coming to it when I had actually written reviews for the other books I read before it. In the end I decided to wait purely because I wanted to avoid confusing myself and missing out a book review somewhere along the way.

More Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops is the sequel to Jen’s first book, Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops, and it pretty much does what it says on the tin! I happen to know Jen, as I’ve probably mentioned before, through a site that we both frequent. The first Weird Things book came about through a series of posts on her blog about some of the crazy things that she has dealt with in her job at a bookshop; the sequel has come about because it seems that people just don’t stop saying crazy things!

Mr Click surprised me with a copy of this book one day after work which was obviously very exciting. I was in the middle of reading another book at the time but luckily it wasn’t a long one and I was soon able to read this. I couldn’t really help comparing it to the original Weird Things but it’s not the sort of book that you have to worry if you’ve not read the first, though if you do read More Weird Things you will definitely want to go out and get your paws on a copy of Weird Things!

If anything I think I enjoyed this one more than the last. Whereas with the first one I was familiar with quite a few of the quotes, this one was almost entirely new with the exception of a few quotes that Jen had shared on Facebook or during the run up to the book’s publication on her blog. I’m guessing that’s because these were compiled with the intention of putting them in a book, whereas the first blog entries were purely for the entertainment of her blog readers.

Once again the Brothers McLeod provided the illustrations. They’re quirky and fun and they complement the quotes from the customers well. As before I couldn’t help but wish that there were more. I realise it’s not at all possible for every quote to be illustrated, but there were a few in there that I’d have loved to have seen how they interpreted them.

It’s one of those books that you can’t help but read extracts out to whoever you’re with. I ended up finishing it before I went to work which was probably a good thing because my family are probably more used to me sitting with a book and sniggering to myself than my colleagues would be if they found me in the canteen doing it. I can’t wait to see what Mr Click thinks of it because he loved the last one and I tried to resist the temptation to read out all of my favourite quotes because I want to see whether his favourites are the same as mine.

Probably one of my favourite bits of the book is one of the final sections: ‘Weird Things Customers Say At Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops Signings’. Try saying that ten times fast! You almost don’t want to believe it but then, if like me, you’ve worked with members of the public, you’ll know that people come out with crazy things like that all the time! My personal favourite from this section is the woman who asked Jen to sign a random book and couldn’t fathom why Jen was just signing one particular book.

As before there’s also quotes from other booksellers around the world. In a way it’s nice to know that the crazy isn’t just concentrated to Ripping Yarns in London, on the other hand, it’s kind of scary to think that the crazy is so widespread around the world! It also kind of makes me want to go into a bookshop and actually try saying some of these things, just to see how they react (and perhaps give them a shot of being featured in Even More Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops). It would be a kind of public service!

I’m looking forward to seeing what Jen will produce next. It’s kind of cool being able to sit at work reading a book and when someone asks what I’m reading I can be like, ‘oh, just a book my friend wrote’. I’ve got both of the Weird Things books plus The Hungry Ghost Festival and I’m looking forward to adding whatever Jen writes next to my bookcase as well. I just hope I don’t have to wait too long. ;-)

Monday, 20 May 2013

A Walk On The Beach

Living on a teeny tiny island, you’re never really that far from a beach. Of the many beaches on the island I have a couple of favourites; Ettrick Bay, which is a proper holiday sort of beach with a cafe and a park for the kids; and the Wee Bay at Kilchattan, which is a lovely quiet sandy stretch of beach which was just across the road from the flat we stayed in when we came here on holiday when I was eight.

Tara loves the beach too so last month, when the weather was fairly decent, we got into the habit of taking her out to a beach in the morning for her walk. This worked out well for all of us. Tara would have a nice long run about on the sand then collapse in the car, Mr Click would get to play with his radio and I would then go for a wander along the beach with my camera.

I’ve taken a lot of photos on the beaches and until now they’ve just been sitting on my hard drive doing nothing, so I though I’d share them here. These were all taken during two separate trips to the Wee Bay. I’ve mixed them up so some are from one and some the other.

There used to be a lot of rubbish on the beaches here, but things have improved recently. It always fascinates me the things that you can find when you’re out walking. That Irn Bru can was just sitting there in the middle of a clear stretch of beach and the Barbie just seemed so incongruous that I had to take a photo; what is she doing, naked, in that animal feed bag? I could quite happily spend all of my walks taking photos of the random junk that you find lying around, but most people probably wouldn’t find those as interesting as I do!

The beach is split in two by a little river that runs down to the sea. There’s a rickety old bridge that you have to cross to get to the other half (which I hate going across because I’m always convinced it’s going to fall down!) and beside this is a field which occasionally has cows in it. On the day that I took the above photo they were really interested in me and a bunch came over to say hello.

The sand at the Wee Bay is just right for sandcastles. Whenever we go there, there’s usually some sign of kids having been playing in the sand. I’ve got lots of fond memories myself of spending time digging holes (then worrying all night that someone would fall in) or making heaps of sand and decorating them with shells and things. I can’t wait until I can do the same things with my own kids.

The Wee Bay has a shingly strip that runs pretty much its entire length. In some places the sand gives way to the shingle entirely. It’s really not fun to walk on barefoot but does make your feel feel lovely and smooth afterwards. Plus it looks really pretty when you take photos of it.

The beach is intersected by loads of little streams. They never seem to stay in the same places either. Obviously the place where they come out onto the beach doesn’t move, but when the tide comes in the sand changes and so when it goes out again the stream takes a new course. I think there are less of them than there used to be. I used to spend hours as a child carting stones around and making little dams and reservoirs. I loved watching the water build up and then force its way past.


I’ve been swimming in this water a couple of times. It’s so shallow and clear (though after a few feet in some places it drops off quite a bit), in the summer it can get really warm too. I could stand for hours just watching the waves crash on the shore; sometimes they’re nice and gentle and at other times they get a bit ferocious so you’ll get soggy toes if you’re too close. They make lovely patterns when the tide goes out too; like something from another planet. It doesn’t half make your eyes go funny if you try looking at them through a camera lens while you’re walking!


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Project 52: Week 20 - Small Things

Firstly can we just take a moment to reflect on the fact that we are rapidly approaching the halfway point of the year! Is anyone else as freaked out about this as I am? It seems like just a week or so ago that I was walking the dog around the garden at my in-laws’ house, listening to the sound of bagpipes playing and a Hogmanay reveller being violently ill!

Anyway, this week’s theme for the photo was Small Things. I knew straight off that I wanted to take a photo of something brightly coloured that I could up the saturation on to make it seem even brighter. What I would’ve loved to have photographed was what I always called the ‘button tin’. It was an old tin tea chest belonging to my great-grandmother and full of various sorts of buttons. I spent hours playing with the contents as a child and since it had been passed on to me I’d added buttons of my own to it; spare buttons from a cardigan my Nan knitted me, clipped off a favourite dress that had grown too small. Those things were currency, characters, tiddly-winks. I loved those buttons and they would’ve made a brilliant photo, I’m sure.

Unfortunately when I moved out of the family home and I asked for my stuff back, that wasn’t included amongst my treasures. It’s a shame that I’ll never get to see them again. I considered taking a photo of one of my other old playthings, a little money-box treasure chest filled with foreign and old money. This wouldn’t have worked so well for a couple of reasons; firstly it’s buried at the bottom of a box of stuff and I didn’t really have the energy to go routing around for it, and secondly, the money isn’t quite as brightly coloured as I would have liked.

Then I thought about using the little Lord of the Rings Warhammer figurines I used to collect and paint. I do intend to get them all out at some point (and actually finish painting them) but this one would’ve required a little bit more effort too. I would’ve had to take them out the box, unwrap them (because they’re each wrapped in tissue paper). Plus some of them aren’t quite as neat as others, so this one was mooted as well.

By this point I was starting to go with a ‘small things that make me happy theme’ and just photograph things like some knitting, chocolate and a book. But that seemed a bit too boring for me. And then I hit upon the perfect subject: pins!

Week 20: Small Things
It might not be the most interesting of photos but I think it ticks pretty much all the boxes. It’s nice and brightly coloured and looks kind of interesting. What I like about it most of all is that I took it on the windowsill in the spare bedroom (which is white) and from such an angle that you couldn’t see the window frame (or at least, you couldn’t once I’d cropped it) so it’s got a lovely pure white background. You’d never know that just to the left of the pile of pins there’s actually a small brown cuddly rat called Borage, hehe. The magic of photography.

I didn’t actually adjust the saturation as much as I thought I’d need to. The pins themselves were very bright and they didn’t need much doing to them to show that off. I tried a couple of macro shots but in those ones the yellow pin at the front wasn’t properly in focus and while I kind of liked the effect of that, I think this way worked better. I love that the ones in the middle and background are little more than brightly coloured blurs. I didn’t know that that was what I was going for until I saw it!

Next week's theme is the very interesting Walls. I'm hoping I'll find an interesting one that I can use for that otherwise it'll be a really boring photo.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Sleep Tight Holly

Yesterday we woke up to find that our Holly rat had died in the night.

Holly was always the biggest of the four sisters we adopted back in December 2011. When we got her she was like this little golf ball sized thing that would sit in the palm of your hand. She was always very rotund, growing to about tennis ball proportions.

She loved her food. I always worried that perhaps she was eating too much but she was just a big squishy girl who seemed meant to be that shape.

Holly was the boss of our girls, probably because as the biggest she could just steam-roller the others out the the way. They didn't seem to mind, though we did get some long-suffering looks when she decided to use one of her sisters as a pillow!

She was the home-maker rat. She was always the first to start ripping up boxes or rearranging the furniture after they'd been cleaned out. You could almost seem her exasperation as she realised she'd have to start over after a cage cleaning.

Holly was never a proper shoulder rat (her bum was too big), but she liked cuddling inside clothes and in hoodie pockets.

She thought that Tara was her pet and used to post shredded paper out through the bars for the dog to eat. Evidently she thought we didn't feed Tara enough!

Holly never visited the vet and although she'd slowed down a little in recent months she still climbed up to the top of the cage for sweetcorn.

She'd developed a lump recently but she was still our Holly rat who made little pigeon coos when she was snuggling with her sisters.

Holly was our fatty-ratty, squishy girl, two-handed rat. If she'd been a boy she would've been called Hamnpork which would've suited her perfectly.

She died in her sleep with her sisters beside her and yesterday we buried her in my in-laws' garden beside her sister Bell.

We'll miss her terribly but she had a good little rattie life, totally spoilt and well loved. And rats are here for little time, that's really all you can give them.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Dancing on the Edge Review

Congratulations! If you're reading this then the Dancing on the Edge curse has been broken!

I mention this because it took us several attempts to actual watch the series. First we were downloading the whole series to watch on iPlayer desktop, which promptly decided that it didn't want to play anything we downloaded or even download anything new. Then we tried downloading the episodes to view with Windows Media Player which was fine for episode one but less fine for episode two which decided that it didn't want to play the last twenty minutes.

So we gave up and decided to wait until it came out on DVD. Once it arrived we then had to wait to finish watching watchever it was that we were watching before we could start on the DVDs. Since watching it I've had to keep on putting off writing the review and it's reached that point where if I don't actually write the review soon I'll forget what it was I actually wanted to say about it.

But writing the review hasn't exactly been easy. I started writing it on my iPhone, only for it to have vanished when I went back to the app. Then when I started writing this review online Internet Explorer seized up and I had to restart it yet again! I'm totally ready to be done with this review!

The series told the story of a jazz band in 1930s London as they rise to fame with the help of a young journalist. It ran over six episodes with the first being an extra long episode. It was literally an all-singing, all-dancing affair and we came to watch it because the guy holding the trumpet at the far right of the group photo above went to college with Mr Click. His name is Chris Storr and he played 'Joe' (the only band member to have a name).

Aside from Mr Click's ex-classmates it also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Head and John Goodman as well as a selection of other people who you'll recognise while you're watching it but won't be able to place without the help of IMDB.

It wasn't quite what I was expecting. I didn't really know what it was going to be about, aside from following the fortunes of a jazz band. I expected there to be some focus on class and race at the time and there was a fair bit of time spent dealing with political aspects (a brilliant scene where Stanley gets the band to play for the German Embassy which they were not very impressed with).

I wasn't expecting the crime aspect of the story. That came as a real surprise to me. I was just expecting it to be about the band and the music, which it was, but I when the story took that route I was really surprised. It really sucked me in though. We ended up watching the last two episodes in one afternoon because we wanted to know how it ended.

I loved the way it was staged. The costumes and scenery just screamed 1930s and it really helped you to get lost in the setting. I loved the contrast between the wealthy inhabitants of the hotel and then the band and Stanley. It was like watching old photographs at times, just beautiful.

And of course I have to mention the music. The music played a huge part in the series and I loved all the songs. We ended up getting the CD soundtrack which is full of the songs the band sings and plays. The fact that Mr Click loves the CD is probably a huge point in its favour because he is definitely not a jazz fan.

I'd definitely recommend this series. It's the sort of thing that the BBC does really well. The fact that it's just six episodes means that you don't get bogged down with it and I'm really glad that we waited until we could watch it all in one go. There was a good balance of comedy, intrigue and music and I've been thinking about going back and rewatching with it at some point because I keep on thinking about bits of it. It's funny because I might not have watched it at all had it not been for someone Mr Click knew who had a part in it. I hope we see more programmes in this sort of vein on BBC soon.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Day Zero Project: Learn to cook 10 meals

I'm not a cook. Not by a long stretch. In our house, ever since we moved in, Mr Click has had sole control in the kitchen, with very good reason; I once cooked a pack of mince without taking it out of the pack (in my defence, I didn't know it was in there when I turned it on). Where we lived before Mr Click was the only one who hadn't succeeded in setting fire to a wok, flambé-ing a baked potato or melting a steamer so that makes him a great cook as far as I'm concerned.

My style of cooking tends toward the open-packet-press-a-button variety. If it comes from a tin or a packet then I'm fine. I also include most egg dishes under the heading of 'packet food' because they kind of come pre-packaged and are pretty effortless to cook. I have to admit, I still use a student cookbook for getting the timings right on things like boiled eggs, my brain just can't handle those numbers!

In fact, I'd say 90% of my cooking problems come from my inability to get the cooking times right. If you're cooking for yourself it's not the end of the world if your veggies are a bit cold because you put them on ten minutes too early; if you're cooking for other people then it's a bit embarrassing.

So the plan is to have my husband walk me through how to cook ten meals from scratch so I can write down exactly what time I need to put things on at (I used to have a cheat sheet written out for cooking a roast dinner that literally said 'when X has been cooking for 10 minutes being Y to the boil' it was perfect for me).

They're all fairly straightforward meals but I'm determine to get the hang of them and get my confidence back in the kitchen so I can start experimenting with recipes from books. We're going to start tomorrow with cooking a roast chicken but also on the cards are Shepherd's/Cottage Pie, casserole and stew as well as maybe a curry or two.

I'm thinking that the best time for this is once I've got my OU course out the way so I can't use studying as an excuse to get out of Mr Click's cookery lessons.

I'm really looking forward to it. It'll be nice to pay him back for all those yummy meals he's cooked since we moved in, plus when he's out and I'm in I won't have to rely on boring standbys like soup!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Blog Spotlight: A Day in the Life of a Little Hippie

I'm trying to write a blog post each month about one of my favourite blogs. Of course, like all good intentions, I sort of missed it last month, but I'm back on track again. Before I started this I was only following a handful of blogs and I thought this would be a good way to connect with my friends over the coming year. Now, in part due to the A to Z Challenge, I'm following a whole bunch of new blogs so if I continue doing one blog spotlight each month I'll have enough to keep me going for several years!

Believe it or not, Sammie's blog at A Day in the Life of a Little Hippie was what prompted me to start doing the blog spotlight. I always read her posts but don't always think of something to say at the time, that made me think of ways I could let my friends know that I liked their posts even though I might not comment regularly.

I know Sammie through HTV and a number of her blog posts are about the HTV nail art challenge that she and several of the other girls are taking part in. She's fantastically creative, as you can see from her nail art posts. Some of my favourites are the watermelon nails, the milkshake ones, the tiger print, and the spring ones.

As well as decorating nails, Sammie's also pretty creative when it comes to jewellery. She makes bracelets, earrings and necklaces which you can buy from her Etsy shop. I particularly like the Hogwarts ones (made in the Hogwarts House colours); she regularly posts photos of what she's been working on.

A Day in the Life of a Little Hippie is a bit of a multipurpose blog, Sammie blogs about all sorts of things, not just jewellery and nail art. She has excellent taste in music and has recently started posting cover songs which are better than the originals (you can see part one here and part two here). I'm really enjoying these and I'm looking forward to seeing what she'll come up with next.

Perhaps my favourite thing to see on Sammie's blog is her photography. She takes beautiful photos and lives in an area where she gets lots of opportunities to take interesting pictures (but can even make photos taken in a recording studio look beautiful). I love the photos of animals at the zoo but she's also started doing a midweek photo stop which is a little collage of photos she's taken during the week which is cool too.

So why not head over to A Day in the Life of a Little Hippie and check out some of Sammie's posts.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Book 17 of 2013: Rasselas, Prince of Abyssina by Samuel Johnson

As I've mentioned a couple of times I've got a bunch of free 'classics' on my Kindle most of which I downloaded because they were listed in the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die book. They're proving useful for selecting books to read which will contribute towards the HTV Reading Challenge, particularly the seasonal challenges which call for you to read a book beginning with each letter of that word. Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia meant I could kill two birds with one stone - one from the 1001 Books and one letter from the Spring Challenge.

Rasselas tells the story of the titular Prince who lives in an idyllic valley with his brothers and sisters who have everything they want. The Happy Valley is opened once a year to allow tutors and other people to come in to provide entertainment to the inhabitants but once these people decide to leave they are never allowed to return. Rasselas becomes depressed because his every whim is met and so longs for the outside world, so makes a plan to leave with his sister and tutor.

I picked this through a very careful method of elimination. I was looking for something that would begin with a particular letter and which wouldn't take long to get through. I ended up looking up the final choices on Wikipedia and went with Rasselas purely because it was likened to Candide, one of the books I had to read for my course earlier this year. If it wasn't for the fact that I'd studied Candide I probably would never have chosen this myself.

It was a very similar sort of read to Candide, I'd certainly recommend it to anyone on my course who enjoyed that particular set text. It was a pretty quick read, only running to 97 pages which I probably could've sailed through even quicker than I did. I don't think it had quite the same sense of humour as Candide, it wasn't really as funny, but there were still plenty of bits that made me smile.

It was a bit heavy on the subject of philosophy. The book is an exploration of what makes us happy, so I suppose a bit of philosophy was to be expected. Normally that would put me off, but I quite enjoyed it in this book, perhaps because it felt a bit like reading a fairytale, so the philosophical stuff wasn't too difficult to follow.

The ending sort of tailed off and went in a different direction to what I was expecting. It felt a little bit abrupt with everyone deciding what they were going to do next (as they'd been doing all the way through) but didn't follow through as it had before. I also really wanted to know more about the Happy Valley, considering how much time at the start of the book was spent there, I'd have liked to have known more about what happened when Rasselas, his sister and tutor left.

On the whole I enjoyed this, probably not something I'm likely to read again unless I have to, but I'm pleased that studying A230 has opened my mind to other texts that I wouldn've ordinarily have chosen to read.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Sunshine Award

Fellow A230-er, Heather, over at Reading, Writing and Everything In Between gave me the Sunshine Award back at the beginning of May. I'd been all set to respond to it when I was hit with the lurgy and decided to put it off rather than trying to make a hash of responding on my iPhone.

The Sunshine Award seems aimed to spread a little bit of sunshine and happiness around blogs (in the form of the slightly creepy baby sun who I think comes from the Teletubbies) and like the Liebster Award encourages you to link to other blogs and check them out as well. I'm in favour for anything like that, and considering summer seems to have come and gone (it was last Tuesday for anyone who missed it) we could probably use a little bit more sunshine.

The sunshine comes with a few questions, so I'll get down to those.
What inspired you to start blogging?
I previously started a blog because I wanted somewhere to record happy things, because I wasnt particularly happy with my job and various other things. I abandoned that when things hit rock bottom and I found myself struggling to find happy things to write about.

This blog came about because I got into a better place, I had a new job, a nice home, cute pets. Mr Click and I decided we wanted to start a family and having always enjoyed reading those 'mommy blogs' where people share what they get up to with their families, I decided I'd quite like to do something like that. I intended it to be a bit of a multipurpose blog with reviews of books, films and TV series, my crafty projects, my OU progress and one hundred and one other little random things. Now it's also branched out to include our infertility journey, which I hope other people in the same boat as us will read and know they're not alone, because I know firsthand, there's not a lot of information about that out there.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?
When I decided I needed a new online identity I ended up settling on Click because it's a smush between my first and last names (I adopted it after I kept typing Click instead of my actual logon name at work). I spent ages trying to come up with a word that would work with Click. I think I narrowed it down to 'Click Snap' (based on the fact I was planning on posting lots of photos) and 'Click's Clan' (or some combination thereof). The latter happened to be the one that was available on Blogger so that's what I ended up going with.

What is your favourite blog to read?
I don't think that I have just one favourite blog that I prefer to read over all others. During the A to Z Challenge I found a bunch of new blogs and I'm still working out exactly where they come in my blogging hierarchy. I enjoy reading the blogs of the girls from HTV who post about their nail art (among other things), also from HTV is Mark at Random Ramblings who has a similar taste in books to myself (and a similar taste in everything else to my husband, which gives me lots of ideas for film choices for him). There are a whole host of photography blogs and funny lifestyle blogs that I follow which generally sort of blur into one for me but which I always enjoy when I see they've updated.

Recently Allie at Hyperbole and a Half posted again after a break due to depression, that's a really good blog to read. She has a brilliant sense of humour and you can't help but find yourself agreeing with some of the things that she writes.

So in short, my favourite blog, all of them!

Tell us about your dream job.
When I was younger I always wanted to be a Blue Peter presenter, I loved watching it and even when I was about fourteen or fifteen I thought it'd still be something I could do. I figured I could train to be a primary school teacher and then maybe, somehow, be on Blue Peter. Now I've hit twenty-seven I'm probably over the hill for that, but it's still something I'd love to do.

I'd be one of the outdoorsy people (as opposed to the sporty ones). I could handle crafts and farm stuff like lambing (since I've got experience doing that). Hopefully they'd teach me to cook too and I'd been alright at that as well.

Is your glass half-full or half-empty?
I try to keep things half-full but occasionally I slip. Normally if something bad happens I'll immediately see it as half-empty but fairly quickly pull myself around to see things in a more positive way. I'm generally a fairly optimistic person.

If you could go anywhere for a week's vacation, where would you go?
I would love to go to New Zealand. I've wanted to visit since I was about nine years old, a desire which was heavily refuelled when Lord of the Rings came out when I was about fifteen. The people all seem lovely, the scenery is fantastic and it'd be great to visit it in person rather than just reading about it and looking at pictures or videos. I already have a list of all the places I'd plan to go!

What food can you positively not eat?
Tomatoes! I'm allergic to them. Not seriously, and I've gotten better as I've grown older, but they still don't taste right to me. Even when I was a baby I used to refuse to eat any baby food which had tomatoes in it. Now I'm able to articulate exactly what it is I don't like about them; they give me a metallic taste in my mouth, like when you spray an aerosol can and get it in your mouth. It took me a long time to realise that they weren't supposed to taste like that.

Because of the tomato thing I was terribly deprived as a child. I didn't experience my first pizza until I was nineteen!

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
Definitely milk chocolate, I'll eat little bits of dark chocolate but I'm not really a fan of it. When I was younger my brother learnt to love coffee-flavoured and dark chocolate purely because they were my least favourites and so when we were given a box of chocolates to share, those would be the only ones he could be guaranteed to get without a fight. I'm not proud of my chocoholic past.

Have to agree with Heather at Reading, Writing and Everything In Between, Galaxy chocolate beats all others.

How much time do you spend blogging?
A large chunk of my Sunday afternoon so probably several hours a week. I do a bit on Saturday afternoons or days when I'm not at work as well as odd paragraphs here and there on my phone when I have an opportunity. I should probably sit down and actually work it out one day.

Do you watch TV and if so, what are your favourite shows?
Yes we watch TV, but the things we watch tend to be on DVD or blu-ray. My favourites are usually old programmes like ER and Friends, Scrubs, Waking the Dead as well as Bones, Doctor Who and Game of Thrones (some of those we watch as we are able to get them on DVD/blu-ray, others my in-laws let us watch at their house, for which we are eternally grateful).

And now I'm passing the sunshine (and the creepy sun baby) on to a handful of other bloggers; these are all people who have commented on my blog recently and whose blogs I enjoy reading too. I'd like to send a little sunshine their way because it always brightens my day when I get a message saying I have a comment on my blog. ;-)
  1. Mark @ Random Ramblings
  2. Jai @ And Then...
  3. Tina @ Life is Good
  4. Laura @ My Baffling Brain
  5. Mary @ Dark Thoughts
So go ahead, if you want and answer the questions:
What inspired you to start blogging?
How did you come up with the name of your blog?
What is your favorite blog to read?
Tell us about your dream job.
Is your glass half full or half empty?
If you could go anywhere for a week’s vacation, where would you go?
What food can you positively not eat?
Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
How much time do you spend blogging?
Do you watch t.v. and if so, what are your favorite shows?

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Project 52: Weeks 18 & 19 - Worn Out & Listening

I'm still dying of the cold right now. I was supposed to be Red Crossing this afternoon, making sure that anyone who was injured during our local triathlon was patched up and sent on their way. Unfortunately the cold has moved from my throat to my nose and sinuses (which hopefully means it's working its way out of my system) so after walking the dog all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and go to sleep.

Instead I came to my in-laws' and lounged on their sofa until lunch, at which point (thankfully) the cold and flu capsules kicked in and I found myself feeling slightly more human.

Not having felt one hundred percent for over a week, I have to admit that my photos for last week and this week aren't really great. That said, they're better than some of my more recent attempts, I just didn't put that much effort into them.

Week 18's theme was Worn Out and I knew as soon as I saw it that Tara would be my model. She does worn out so well. I wish I could have made a video of her instead of taking a photo because a picture doesn't capture the thump as she throws her exhausted butt onto the floor, or the deep sigh to let us know that she's not got the energy to remain upright any more.

Week 18: Worn Out
She'll sleep pretty much anywhere and in any position (although lying on her back with her legs in the air is always a favourite). It's cute listening to her doing her little yips and snores when she's well away, her eyes roll back too (and she sleeps with her lids a little open) which makes for some creepy pictures.

Considering the fact that when we got her she wasn't allowed on the furniture, she spends an awful lot of time cuddling Mr Click on the sofa. The photo above is of her totally zonked out, cuddling his legs. I'd been trying to get a decent photo of her looking suitably worn out for most of the week, but most of them weren't working out because of the aforementioned eye-opening problem. I think this one captures her being worn out pretty well though, she's just sort of flopped.

Week 19's theme was Listening. I was really suffering from the cold and couldn't come up with anything particularly interesting for this, so in the end I went for a totally posed photo.

Week 19: Listening
That's Mr Click pretending to listen on my phone. I went for my phone purely because it has a green case which looked better than his brown (which is a slightly different style). The weird angle is because I'm a lot shorter than he is and I couldn't quite get his head and his hand in the picture if I took is landscape. I guess it's quirky.

If I'd had more energy then I would've taken a super close-up of the speakers for the TV or maybe Mr Click's hearing aids (which are currently out of commission because they never work). Hopefully my photos will improve now that I'm feeling slightly better, the next few weeks are set to give me a few opportunities (I'm already getting ideas). Next week is Small Things and the cogs are starting to turn already!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Unfortunately Not

I got home from work today to find an official looking letter waiting for me. It was addressed with a sticker with my details on in a courier style font which just screams NHS to me.

I suspected it was going to be an eye appointment about a freckle in my eye that needs to be looked at but it was actually about the IVF. For a moment I thought it was going to be telling us that we'd reached the top of the list and it was our turn, at first glance it looked like an appointment letter.

It wasn't.

It was basically saying that since we've been on the waiting list so long now (heading for thirteen months) we could have our treatment at another hospital under another trust. Sounds great, right?

Except the hospital they're suggesting we go to is in Edinburgh.

As you can see, that won't really be practical. It's enough of a trek getting to Glasgow as it is, let alone adding another hour onto the journey each way.

The letter also said that as it's been a while we might have changed our mind about wanting the IVF and so I have to reply to let them know we do want to stay on the waiting list, otherwise we'll be removed. I'm so paranoid about losing our spot that I immediately dug out an envelope to send our reply in. I'm not sure if they'll send us a confirmation back so I'll probably end up calling them too in a week or so's time just to be on the safe side.

It's such a shame that they couldn't've offered us a hospital on the west coast, I'd have jumped at the chance if there was something closer. But knowing how stressful and exhausting this is going to be we really can't justify going all the way to Edinburgh for that.

At least we've got our first appointment at the Nuffield in just over a week.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Can I just brag a bit?

Would you believe this is about the fifth time I've rescheduled my Dancing on the Edge review post. I'm wanting to do it justice so I don't want to just write it on my phone. I know what I want to say though so hopefully I'll get it done next week.

I know I did a little 'my husband is wonderful' post a few weeks back but you know what, my husband is still pretty damn wonderful and I feel like sharing that.

Like today my cold is a little bit better but now I'm all bunged up with a runny nose and I'd run out of drugs to deal with that. But we weren't able to pick anything up on the way to work this morning so I thought I would just have to suffer on.

Imagine my surprise when one of the people at work came and deposited a couple of packets of Soothers on my desk. He'd brought them up for me and handed them over to someone who could pass them on to me.

Then he picked me up from work at the end of the day with pizza. My shift this week meant that tea was likely to be a rushed affair. The pizza was my favourite, it was yummy and a nice quick meal.

And then there's another little thing. On Saturday when we were watching Star Wars and I mentioned that I really wanted to get The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

I used to love both these films when I was little, particularly The Dark Crystal, though they scared me a bit too. I can't wait to rewatch them.

Now I just have to decide which of the two we should watch first.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Day Zero Project: Buy my husband a pocket trumpet

When Mr Click was umming and ahhing over whether or not to complete his Open University degree by taking one final course, I thought of something to sweeten the deal. A pocket trumpet.

He'd been lusting after them for some time and really really wanted one. He's a talented brass musician and I knew that it was something he would play and cherish but at £300 it wasn't really something we could justify splurging on.

He's always buying me little gifts of picking things up he knows I'll like but I don't really do the same for him. So I got it into my head that I would buy the pocket trumpet for him, as a graduation gift.

As the final months of his course approached I diligently set aside some money each month into my savings account and he diligently studied and passed all of his assignments. As promised, when he passed his final exam, I purchased the pocket trumpet.

For those not in the know, a pocket trumpet is a regular trumpet but slightly smaller. This one has a full-sized bell, it's the full length tubing for a b-flat trumpet but sort of folded up a bit; Mr Click told me that, I don't know much about them other than the fact that it sounds very good.

As well as being proud of Mr Click for achieving what he set out to do, especially knowing the blood, sweat and tears that went into that degree, I'm proud of myself for saving up for the instrument. With my old job that would've been the product of six-weeks' wages; now we're not exactly well off but with careful budgeting we're able to afford little luxuries like new instruments, white goods and a labrador.

Plus it's nice to do something nice for someone you love. This one is definitely a Day Zero Mission accomplished.